The long-awaited discovery just didn't come the way veteran head coach Tracy Nichols expected.
The Crusaders sent junior right-hander Anthony Hoegermann to the mound on a blustery day against a Staples team looking to bounce back from a tough loss against Wilton on Monday. Things didn't go well for Hoegemann, who failed to record an out before being pulled as Staples struck for eight runs in the top of the first inning on its way to a runaway 14-1 victory Wednesday afternoon at Mickey Lione Field.
Staples (6-2, 5-1 FCIAC) finished with 13 hits and received a nice effort out of senior right-hander Justin Gallanty, who scattered six hits over six innings to pick up his third win of the season.
On the bright side, the Crusaders did get six tough innings out of senior righty Rob Tusch, who scratched his way out of the first inning after taking over for Hoegemann and pitches a scoreless second and third to stop Staples' momentum.
Tusch would end up allowing seven runs and eight hits over six complete innings, walking three and striking out two. But he did it with 109 pitches in relief, battling his way through the rest of the afternoon, never allowing the Wreckers to get as comfortable as they were in the first inning when they sent 13 men to the plate.
With a team filled with varsity newcomers and veterans forced to switch positions for the betterment of the team, that's all Nichols can ask at this point.
"We're searching for a No. 3 right now. We put Anthony Hoegermann out there a couple of times. Today wasn't his day," said Nichols, whose team fell to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the FCIAC. "But Rob Tusch came in and I thought he did a great job stopping their momentum. It's tough to give up eight runs in the first inning against a team like Staples because that can balloon up to 25 runs if you don't compete. That's all I asked the kids to do after the top of the first and I thought Rob led the way in competing for us."
Tusch didn't earn the No. 3 pitcher's spot for good, but he was able to put himself at the top of the list with his gritty performance.
"I don't know if I found a No. 3 or not," Nichols said. "But we'll find out because he's going to get that opportunity again."
Staples went into the game looking to make amends at the plate after managing just four hits during a 3-2 loss against the Warriors.
The Wreckers accomplished their goal quickly. Freshman third-baseman Ben Casparius collected two hits and two RBIs in the first inning alone. Shortstop Sam Ellingwood (three RBIs) had a two-run double, catcher Adam Dulsky (2-for-4) drove in one run with a single to right and outfielder Bryan Porter (2-for-2, two walks) slashed an opposite-field double to left to score two more runs.
Ross Poulley (2-for-4) and sophomore designated hitter Noah Yokoi added singles to keep the big inning going. Yokoi went 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.
"We had a rough day on Monday so we were looking to swing the bats," Staples head coach Jack McFarland said. "We were concentrating on hitting the ball hard on the ground. I thought we did that well today."
Nichols was able to see some other bright spots amidst all the runs being put up by the Wreckers. Senior Jackson Solis is getting better every day at first base after switching from catcher to make room for junior Tommy Costigan and Matt Fraioli is rounding into a solid third baseman.
Sophomore designated hitter Dillon Daine continued to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-3 while driving in Trinity's only run with a two-out single in the bottom of the first.
Polonia, one of the top pitchers in the FCIAC, is also starting to look like a star at shortstop. Polonia also had two hits and scored Trinity's lone run.
"I was happy with the way the guys competed, and we have some guys who are starting to swing the bats," Nichols said. "I'm finding some things out about some kids, where they're comfortable, where they're going to be successful. So we'll see."
Staples 14, Trinity 1
STAPLES 800 312 0--14 13 2
TRINITY 100 000 0--1 7 3
Batteries: S-Justin Gallanty (W, 3-0), Alec Johnson (7) and Adam Dulsky; TC-Anthony Hoegemann (L, 0-2), Rob Tusch (1), Kyle Kaishain (7) and Tommy Costigan.